Every so often I pull the shoebox from my closet, usually when it falls on my head as I’m looking for something else. Unavoidable scrutiny rises from contents spilled on the floor. My shoebox isn’t in the best of shape, it never occurrs to me to find a sturdier, more suitable box. I prefer to tape it up, return the treasure and slide it back on the shelf.
Shoebox contains letters – 50 years of hopes, dreams, heartache, and best wishes. The better part of life falls on my head from a dusty duct taped box. I don’t read them, feel remorse or contemplate any life other than the one I have. If anything I worry about what others might think if something happened to me and they found my shoebox. As my children grow older I worry less and less about misunderstanding or judgement. My husband may not even realize the shoebox exists but would cherish the contents as much as I do – our youth lives in that box.
Mostly I look at the handwriting; the author instantly recognizable by the slant of their pen. Handwriting is comforting; a gift in ways tweets, texts, and emails could never be. My shoe box lives and breathes with every stroke of the pen, every word hand crafted and immortal. My shoebox may be tattered and dusty yet the contents whisper for all eternity.
Canadian schools are dropping cursive writing from the curriculum. Aside from obvious issues like signing your name when opening a bank account, passport, or back of a credit card – shoe boxes will only be half full. Before long no one will even remember what it felt like to open an envelope – memories will live in a “cloud” not a closet. The world just won’t be the same without shoe boxes falling on our heads.